Animal Kingdom by Shag – Corey Helford Gallery

IMG_6811On February 11, the Corey Helford gallery in Culver City hosted an opening party for Shag’s latest exhibition of paintings entitled Animal Kingdom. His previous show here was the doom and gloom fest Autumn’s Come Undone in late 2009, but now Shag’s sophisticates are once again carelessly swilling martinis in brightly colored swank pads.

IMG_6801The place was packed from the get-go as folks lined up to get free commemorative posters (for the first 500 guests). More than half of the 15 new paintings had already been sold by the time we walked in. Shag himself (Josh Agle) was there posing for photos and signing things — you couldn’t miss him since he had donned a pair of antlers just like some of his art subjects.

IMG_6821The press release for this show notes that Shag found inspiration from a vintage costume pattern that simply modified the ears and tails to portray different animals. However, he also points out a more modern muse: “I’ve noticed a lot of teenagers and hipsters recently wearing hoodies and beanies with animal ears, antlers or horns. Maybe there is a subconscious urge to return to our animalistic natures.”

IMG_6806 Wolves, bulls, birds, monkeys, and cats especially have frequently appeared alongside people in his works, often in an anthropomorphic manner. Here the theme is being turned around with the humans expressing their wild sides sartorially.

IMG_6812The centerpiece of the show was the eight-foot-long painting “Predators and Prey,” which was also my favorite for its nearly neon colors. Now if only I had $40,000 burning a hole in my pocket.

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I did also dig some of the smaller pieces like the Catwoman-esque “Black Kitten in Purple,” which had two other complementary versions in green and orange.

IMG_6826 In a neat tech-savvy twist, there was a little QR Code next to each painting. When you scanned each barcode with the camera on your smartphone, it took you to a special web page. I thought it might tell you the painting’s name or price, but instead it displayed a sentence or two to set the scene.

IMG_6829The best ones showed a wicked sense of humor, like this one for “Wayward Cub”…”She didn’t have a problem with Stevie’s drinking until the first drop of his Purple Rain hit the snowy white fur of her ex-husband.”

IMG_6815You can see the paintings on Shag’s site and read all those vignettes by clicking on the dots towards the bottom of the page. Animal Kingdom by Shag will be on display at the gallery through March 3, 2012.

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Corey Helford Gallery
522 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
310-287-2340

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Psycho Suzi’s Gift Shop & Signature Mugs

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Well, I hope you’re not sick of Suzi because I’m still not done talking about her yet. A trip to Psycho Suzi’s just wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the gift shop, which is on your left when you enter the lobby.

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They offer brown and yellow signature tank tops, hoodies and beanies, plus six styles of t-shirts, including one for each of the bars in the Shangri-la Cocktail Lounge. I coudn’t resist the ones emblazoned “Where your petty concerns of authenticity are irrelevant” and “Dock your dinghy at Ports of Pleasure.” The latter also has a neat ship drawn on the back.

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In the case they have their first custom Tiki Farm mug (in the middle with the red eyes), along with about a dozen different Dynasty mugs that Psycho Suzi’s has matched up with their drinks. I’m now diggin’ that big volcano mug from Poolside Pineapple.

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They recently debuted their second locale-specific vessel for the Shrunken Head bar. You might have seen it on the cover of Tiki Farm’s Summer 2011 Quarterly, which featured an article describing the process of going from the original artwork to a design interpreted by The Pizz to the manufacturing of the final product. This Shrunken Head mug ($20) can be purchased online or in the gift shop, or ordered with its corresponding cocktail in the Shangri-la lounge.

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There are even more Dynasty mugs, bowls and shots up on the wall. Most were fairly familiar to me, except for that one that looks like an open-mouth bass. How very Minnesotan!

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I thought the Suzi Pint glasses were a great buy at only three bucks each. On one side is the Sailor Jerry hula girl and on the other is Psycho Suzi’s signature tiki.

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On the counter you’ll find impulse purchases like logo-rific patches ($4), pins ($6) and beer cozies ($4). Don’t fret if you’re nowhere near “Nordeast” Minneapolis, though — Psycho Suzi’s has started stocking some of their merch in an online store.

Shangri-La Cocktail Lounge at Psycho Suzi’s

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I’ve already praised the main dining area and patio of Psycho Suzi’s, but there’s still more to this behemoth of a tiki bar. Upstairs is the Shangri-La Cocktail Lounge, a large space that houses three themed areas each with their own menus of six signature drinks. These bars are only open on Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to midnight.

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My favorite from the trio was the Forbidden Cove, which is straight ahead when you walk in. I loved the dark, romantic mood created with the orange glowing fish floats and string lights reflecting in the mirrors. The walls were also festooned with tons of plastic tropical flowers and foliage, and the tables featured fiberoptic centerpieces and peacock chairs.

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It doesn’t matter what section you sit in, you can still order from any of the Shangri-La menus. The very thirsty can undertake the Mender of Broken Dreams ($58), a three-tiered marvel that serves about 10 and includes a bottle of champagne, rum, other liquor, strawberry, pineapple, coconut, banana and lime.

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The other five signature drinks are all blended. On the advice of our waitress I opted for the Forbidden Cove ($10), a sweet blue slushie served in a coconut perched on top of a glass. It went down real easy and I preferred it over the Zombie Slush we tried downstairs. Meanwhile, my brother went for a Shasta Tiki Punch soda and my mum ordered the Poisoned Spear ($8.95) from the Shrunken Head side of the menu, made with various rums, cinnamon, pineapple and almond. How cool is that swizzle?

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On the left is the Ports of Pleasure with tiki poles, more string lights, nautical rope and ship’s wheels. There’s seating at the bar and at nearby tables with stools. It must also be mentioned that you can order food off the full menu from the dining room downstairs.

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I concluded our drinking tour with the lychee, mango and lime flavored Wangiwangi ($8.95) from the “Distant Shore Tropicals.” It was a bit bigger than I’d bargained for but that’s no complaint. (I’ll make the joke for you: “That’s what she said…”

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The Shrunken Head bar on the opposite end features neat atomic lamps, lots of tables, a long bar with a thatched overhang and, of course, some shrunken heads. The other side of that bar is kind of secluded — it’s where the cool kids like to hang out.

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In addition to the strong and spicy “Tribal Coolers” at the Shrunken Head, they also have a few local Minnesota beers on tap plus nearly two dozen more canned and bottled options ranging from PBR tall boys (for the hipsters) to Brooklyn Lager (for the beer snob hipsters).

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Just as we were heading out the house band, Exotik-a-GoGo, was starting to set up in the middle of the room. They play every Friday and Saturday night from 7 p.m.-11 p.m. (and they’ll also be performing at Hukilau this year.)